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story.lead_photo.caption Mugs Cafe has opened in the former Starbucks, Kavanaugh Boulevard and Pierce Street, in Little Rock's Pulaski Heights. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Eric E. Harrison)

Mugs Cafe, 515 Main St., North Little Rock, surprised a lot of folks when it more or less suddenly opened its long-awaited second location late last week in the former Starbucks, 5719 Kavanaugh Blvd., at North Pierce Street in Little Rock's Pulaski Heights. Even its Facebook page described the Friday opening as a "surprise."

The May announcement that Mugs would be taking over the space carried a late July target, which came and went with no evidence of progress for months thereafter until an Oct. 14 list of city Planning and Development Department building permits included an application for $145,853 (an unusually specific amount, actually) to "remodel existing space for new coffee and cafe business." Mugs owner Michael Hickmon delivered on some promises he made last spring — more seating and a better layout and that the new location would incorporate Mugs' full existing menu with a few tweaks; others that have not, or not yet, include patio renovations.

Hours are 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Calls placed to the listed phone number, (501) 503-5958, only got us a voicemail prompt.

***

That Ramen Place, on the same Kavanaugh Boulevard block as Mugs Cafe, has closed.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Karen Martin)
That Ramen Place, on the same Kavanaugh Boulevard block as Mugs Cafe, has closed. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Karen Martin)

In the same block, we've taken official note of the closure of That Ramen Place, 5711 Kavanaugh, which was locked tight and utterly without sign of life during posted business hours last weekend. The listed phone number, (501) 414-0284, hasn't been disconnected but returns only a voicemail prompt. We're not sure when the closure happened, but it's possible it came at about the same time, the end of October, that owner Au Tran's three Little Rock Ohia Poke locations went under.

Above the porch of what appears to have once been a house at 201 N. Izard St., Little Rock, facing LaHarpe Bouelvard, is, in a cursive-style "font," the words Two Sisters. You'll recall we've reported that the Sherwood cafe (3130 E. Kiehl Ave.) and catering operation (3140 E. Kiehl Ave.) was working on a second outlet in downtown Little Rock, with an original target to open last spring. We didn't get a call back by deadline to get an idea of the timeline. It was originally going to be primarily a coffee shop and cafe that might also possibly feature take-and-bake pastries. Two Sisters' Sherwood phone number is (501) 351-4289.

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Here's a brief list of central Arkansas restaurants that will be open Christmas Day and/or, where we know of it, Christmas Eve. Where possible, we're including phone numbers for reservations and for folks to double-check details (because we have verified information as much as possible, but we are not vouching for absolute accuracy).

As with our Thanksgiving list, inclusion is purely a matter of a restaurant, hotel, etc., having provided information to us. It does not in any way constitute an endorsement. And the absence of a restaurant from the list does not constitute either proof that it isn't open or any form of disdain on our part. Any post-publication additions will, we expect, show up in an online version closer to Christmas.

The Wyndham Riverfront, 1 Riverfront Place, North Little Rock, will offer a 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. brunch buffet, with ham, roast beef, turkey and blackened tilapia and a waffle/omelet station. $29.95, $24.95 for senior citizens, $14.95 for children 5-11, free for kids 5 and younger with a paying adult, plus tax and gratuities. (501) 907-4826.

• The Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St, Little Rock, has already sold out its 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Christmas buffet; the hotel's Capital Bar & Grill will be open, serving the regular menu. (501) 370-7068.

The Marriott Hotel, West Markham and Louisiana streets, Little Rock, will serve a three-course, plated, prix fixe Christmas meal, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. — $45, half-off ($22.50) for kids. (501) 399-8000.

YaYa's Euro Bistro, Promenade at Chenal, 17711 Chenal Parkway, is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Christmas Eve, but not Christmas Day. (501) 821-1144.

Icehouse Grill, 1209 Edison Ave. Benton, will serve Christmas dinner, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. — choice of two meats (smoked ham, smoked turkey, fried turkey), three sides, drink and dessert for $18.99. (501) 722-8186

• Some area Asian restaurants open on Christmas. Two we know of for sure: Forbidden Garden Chinese Restaurant, 14810 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — (501) 868-8149; and Fantastic China, 1900 N. Grant St., Little Rock, regular hours and regular menu — (501) 663-8999. (From personal experience: These places fill up early and stay full late. Make reservations if you can.)

• And Hurts Donuts, 107 E. Markham St., "never closes," says franchisee Connor Grimes, "so please feel free to include us in any future lists."

And, courtesy of Sara Skirboll, resident "Shopping & Trends expert" for savings destination RetailMeNot (retailmenot.com), some information on chain places:

Buffalo Wild Wings locations will be open on Christmas Day this year; hours may vary by location.

Cracker Barrel, which has locations in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Conway, is offering holiday meals — ham, sides and choice of pie.

Denny's: Special options include a turkey and dressing dinner pack, cinnamon-roll pancake breakfast and pumpkin or pecan pies.

IHOP restaurants are open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; hours may vary.

Starbucks: Hours may vary.

Waffle House: Open 24/7/365, including Christmas Day.

And it's not for Christmas Day per se, but Allsopp & Chapple Restaurant + Bar, 311 Main St., Little Rock, is serving a pre-Christmas, prix fixe jazz brunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, with cooked-to-order omelets, Eggs Benedict, prime rib, shrimp cocktail, Belgian waffles, breakfast and lunch items, salads, fruit, desserts, mimosas and a bloody Mary bar. It's $32, free for children 12 and younger. (501) 902-4911.

***

We reported some weeks ago that Alexa's Creperie, 173 Marion Anderson Road, Hot Springs, appeared to be planning a second operation in the former NVU Boutique, 238 Cornerstone Blvd. Now we learn, via this Monday post on the Facebook page, facebook.com/alexascreperie, that they're actually moving: "Dear Valued Customers. Our location at 173 Marion Anderson is officially closed so that we can finish and move into our new location in the Cornerstone Marketplace on Central Avenue. ... We are working diligently to finish our new home and will announce our opening day soon." The menu at the original location has included pierogi, 20 sweet and savory crepes, sandwiches, salads and soups. The phone number is (501) 760-4799; the website, alexascreperie.com.

Kansas-based Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers has opened a Hot Springs franchise outlet at 102 Buena Vista Road. The 2,844-square-foot, freestanding restaurant seats 92 indoors plus a patio and a drive-thru. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. The phone number is (501) 359-3066.

The Baton Rouge-based Walk-On's chain is changing its name, from Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar to Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux, just in time for the January opening of its Conway franchise, Arkansas' first, at 955 S. Amity Road. The name change reflects the chain's "mission" of "offering Louisiana-inspired food alongside an unparalleled sports viewing experience." Restaurant signage will change at the chain's additional 30-plus restaurants in early 2020. Visit walkons.com.

And Chicago-based Foodie Flashpacker blogger Nathan Aguilera has included Little Rock on his list of nominees for America's Next Top Foodie Destination, 33 "off-the-beaten-path destinations where travel bloggers say they have found some of the best food across the country," according to a news release. (Inserting our own 2 cents' worth: Much would depend on who is beating the path and who's already on it. But we digress.) The city with the most votes will become "America's Next Hottest Foodie Destination 2020." Vote through the end of the week for Little Rock — unless you want to support one of the other destinations, which include Portland, Maine; Ridgeland, Miss.; Walla Walla, Wash.; Torrance and Costa Mesa, Calif.; Durango, Colo.; Huntsville, Ala., and Naples, Fla. — at foodieflashpacker.com/americas-next-hottest-foodie-destination-2020. There you can also find the complete 33-city list with details outlining each city's unique qualities and foodie offerings. (Little Rock's focuses almost entirely on cheese dip.) One vote per person per device, but you can stuff the ballot box, so to speak, using multiple devices (desktop, laptop, mobile phone, iPad, etc.).

Has a restaurant opened — or closed — near you in the last week or so? Does your favorite eatery have a new menu? Is there a new chef in charge? Drop us a line. Call (501) 399-3667 or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203. Send email to:

eharrison@adgnewsroom.com

Weekend on 12/19/2019

Print Headline: RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: Mugs Cafe's second location hits Heights by surprise; nearby ramen place closed

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